Published: November 5, 2002
By Tom O’Hara
NASHVILLE, TENN. — The Tailgate Antiques Market at Nashville: It is not fancy, just lots of fun and good for finding and buying.
Heart of Country is without question one of the important antiques shows in America, happening twice each year, October and late winter, usually February. As with most shows, its facility is limited so there has been a waiting list for dealers wanting to exhibit. There are also many dealers who cannot afford the high expense of shows like “Heart,” or are not comfortable with the pomp and circumstances of such shows. These factors have lead to the creation of other shows, tailgates, down the block or across the street with lower costs to dealers and less formality.
In Nashville, the first and among the most successful is the Tailgate Antique Show at Fiddlers Inn, an old style motel with rooms opening onto the parking lot or walkway, just across the street from Opryland Hotel, site of Heart.
Started by Steve and Barbara Jenkins 18 years ago, the concept was simple: rent hotel rooms for the dealers to use and from which to sell antiques. Also use the parking lot to sell off the tailgates of their trucks. All of this starting just before the big show so those dealers can shop the tailgate before setting up and visitors to the big show can also attend. A simple plan and it worked. In fact, Jenkins Show Management has it working so well that Fiddlers is usually full to the hotel’s capacity and there is another tailgate show as a result.
This fall the show began with dealers all checked into the motel by noon on Tuesday, October 15. At exactly that hour dealers may begin to unveil their goods and set up. The starting time is important as all the dealers scramble to set up, but they also scramble to buy from one another. Set up and trading takes all afternoon and evening; imagine taking seven-foot-tall cupboards up a flight of winding stairs.
On Wednesday at 8 am the early buyers are admitted, usually hundreds, and sometimes more than 1,000, paying a premium fee to have the first shot, so to speak, at the inventories and collections of 150 to 200 dealers. Early buyers have to be fast though, for regular admission is at noon at which point the joint is jumping, buying and selling decisions are made quickly and antiques change hands to collectors and dealers.
The fun lasts until Saturday at 5 pm, when after all, all good must come to an end.
This fall most customers and dealers felt that, given the poor economics of the past year, Fiddlers was a huge success.
John and Veronica Malchione, Kennett’s Square, Penn., are dealers in antique fishing and sporting gear. John said Fiddlers has become one of his most important shows, the second best of this year.
Ruth Nutty brings a wide variety of folk painted objects. This year’s collection included a stack of boxes, blanket boxes, bride’s boxes and document boxes. Warehouse Antiques has been doing Fiddlers for ten years, bringing furniture and objects collected near Ken Ware’s home in Boyleston, Mass.
is held twice a year, starting just before Heart of Country. Steve Jenkins said the next one is February 11-15. For more information contact Jenkins Show Management, 317-598-0012. Hotel accommodations for the week are available at most of the national chains, but ask for Music Valley Way addresses as Opryland is on the East side of town and you may want to be within walking distance.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm